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1. The Godfather (1972) (F. Coppola)
2. Vertigo (1958) (A. Hitchcock)
3. Fanny Och Alexander (1982) (I. Bergman)
4. Mulholland Drive (2001) (D. Lynch)
5. Solyaris (1972) (A. Tarkovsky)
6. The Godfather Part II (1974) (F. Coppola)
7. Paris, Texas (1984) (W. Wenders)
8. Sunrise (1927) (FW Murnau)
9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (S. Kubrick)
10. Taxi Driver (1976) (M. Scorcese)
11. Chinatown (1974) (Polanski)
12. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) (J. Cassavetes)
13. Eraserhead (1977) (D. Lynch)
14. Stroszek (1977) (W. Herzog)
15. In A Lonely Place (1950) (N. Ray)
16. Stalker (1979) (A. Tarkovsky)
17. C�era Una Volta Il West (Once Upon A Time in the West) (1968) (S. Leone)
18. Ikiru (1952) (A. Kurosawa)
19. Viridiana (1961) (Bunuel)
20. Deconstructing Harry (1997) (W. Allen)
21. Raging Bull (1980) (M. Scorcese)
22. Apocalypse Now (1979) (F. Coppola)
23. Heavenly Creatures (1994) (P. Jackson)
24. 8 � (1963) (Fellini)
25. M (1931) (Fritz Lang)
26. Citizen Kane (1941) (O. Welles)
27. Russkiy Kovcheg (Russian Ark) (2002) (A. Sokurov)
28. Funny Games (1997) (M. Haneke)
29. Idioterne (1998) (L. von Trier)
30. Le Charme Discret De la Bourgeoisie (1972) (L. Bunuel)
31. Persona (1966) (I. Bergman)
32. Casablanca (1942) (M. Curtiz)
33. Andrei Rubylov (1966) (A. Tarkovsky)
34. Inland Empire (2006) (David Lynch)
35. The Thin Red Line (1998) (T. Malick)
36. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) (W. Allen)
37. Deliverance (1972) (J. Boorman)
38. Midnight Cowboy (1969) (J. Schelsinger)
39. La Strada (1954) (F. Fellini)
40. Badlands (1973) (Malick)
41. The Crowd (1928) (K. Vidor)
42. El Ultimo Tango a Parigi (Last Tango in Paris) (1972) (Bertolucci)
43. Dancer In The Dark (2001) (L. von Trier)
44. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) (G. Reggio)
45. L�Age D�Or (1930) (L. Bunuel)
46. Intolerance (1916) (DW Griffith)
47. Memento (2000) (C. Nolan)
48. Ba Wang Bie Ji (Farewell My Concubine) (Chen Kaige)
49. Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) (M. Ophuls)
50. Cach� (2005) (M. Haneke)
51. Fa Yeung Nin Wa (In The Mood For Love) (2000) (Wong Kar Wai)
52. Zerkalo (Mirror) (1975) (A. Tarkovsky)
53. Synecdoche New York (2008) (C. Kaufman)
54. Mean Streets (1973) (M. Scorcese)
55. Anatomy of a Murder (1959) (O. Preminger)
56. Smultronstallet (Wild Strawberries) (1957) (I. Bergman)
57. Short Cuts (1993) (R. Altman)
58. Chung Hing Sam Lam (Chungking Express) (1994) (Wong Kar Wai)
59. American Beauty (1999) (S. Mendes)
60. Gone With the Wind (1939) (V. Fleming, Cukor)
61. No Country For Old Men (2007) (The Coen Bros)
62. Goodfellas (1990) (M. Scorcese)
63. Ran (1985) (A. Kurosawa)
64. Requiem For A Dream (2000) (D. Aranofsky)
65. Total Recall (1990) (P. Verhoeven)
66. Satantango (1994) (B. Tarr)
67. Rosemary�s Baby (1968) (R. Polanski)
68. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) (W. Allen)
69. Le Notti Di Cabiria (1957) (F. Fellini)
70. It�s A Wonderful Life (1946) (F. Capra)
71. Mar Adentro (2004) (A. Amenabar)
72. The Passenger (1975) (M. Antonioni)
73. Double Indemnity (1944) (B. Wilder)
74. Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) (1963) (L. Visconti)
75. Blue Velvet (1986) (D. Lynch)
76. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) (E. Kazan)
77. Dr Strangelove (1964) (S. Kubrick)
78. Repulsion (1965) (R. Polanski)
79. Paths of Glory (1957) (S. Kubrick)
80. The Birth of a Nation (1915) (DW Griffith)
81. La Haine (1995) (Kassovitz)
82. The Matrix (1999) (The Wachowski Bros)
83. Happiness (1998) (T. Solondz)
84. On The Waterfront (1954) (E. Kazan)
85. The Battle of Algiers (1966) (G. Pontecorvo)
86. Chelovek S Kino-apparatom (The Man With a Camera) (1929) (D. Vertov)
87. Los Olvidados (1950) (L. Bunuel)
88. Das Kabinet Der Dr Caligari (1920) (R. Weine)
89. Amarcord (1973) (F. Fellini)
90. Easyrider (1969) (D. Hopper)
91. His Girl Friday (1940) (H. Hawks)
92. Cidade De Deus (2002) (F. Meirelles)
93. Sansho Dayu (Sansho The Bailiff) (1954) (K. Mizoguchi)
94. Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (Capra)
95. Brazil (1985) (Gilliam)
96. Carrie (1976) (De Palma)
97. Das Boot (1981) (W. Petersen)
98. La Notte (Antonioni)
99. Night of the Hunter (C. Laughton)
100. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)
Greatest films by year 2011: The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
2010: Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkich)
2009: City of Life and Death (Chuan Lu)
2008: Synecdoche New York (Charlie Kaufman)
2007: No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen)
2006: Inland Empire (David Lynch)
2005: The New World (Terrence Malick)
2004: Der Untergang (Oliver Hirschbiegel)
2003: Saraband (Ingmar Bergman)
2002: Cidade de Deus (Fernando Meirelles)
2001: Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
2000: Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier)
1999: American Beauty (Sam Mendes)
1998: The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick)
1997: Cheun gwong tsa sit(Wong Kar-Wai)
1996: The English Patient (Anthony Minghella)
1995: Vlemma tou Odyssea, To (Theo Angelopoulos)
1994: Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
1993: Trois Couleurs: Bleu (Krystov Kieslowski)
1992: The Player (Robert Altman)
1991: The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme)
1990: Goodfellas (Martin Scorcese)
1989: Crimes & Misdemeanors (Woody Allen)
1988: The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorcese)
1987: Himmel �ber Berlin, Der (Wim Wenders)
1986: Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
1985: Ran (Akira Kurosawa)
1984: Paris Texas (Wim Wenders)
1983: Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky)
1982: Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio)
1981: The Postman Always Rings Twice (Bob Rafelson)
1980: Raging Bull (Martin Scorcese)
1979: Apocalypse Now (Francis Coppola)
1978: Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick)
1977: Eraserhead (David Lynch)
1976: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorcese)
1975: Zerkalo (Andrei Tarkovsky)
1974: The Godfather Part II (Francis Coppola)
1973: Amarcord (Federico Fellini)
1972: The Godfather (Francis Coppola)
1971: A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)
1970: Tristana (Luis Bunuel)
1969: Andrey Rublyov (Andrei Tarkovsky)
1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
1967: Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn)
1966: Persona (Ingmar Bergman)
1965: Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard)
1964: Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick)
1963: 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini)
1962: Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)
1961: Viridiana (Luis Bunuel)
1960: � bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard)
1959: Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder)
1958: Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
1957: Smultronst�llet (Ingmar Bergman)
1956: The Searchers (John Ford)
1955: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
1954: Shichinin no samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
1953: T�ky� monogatari (Yasujiro Ozu)
1952: Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa)
1951: A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan)
1950: Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder)
1949: The Third Man (Carol Reed)
1948: Ladri di biciclette (Vittorio De Sica)
1947: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur)
1946: It's A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)
1945: Roma, citt� aperta (Roberto Rossellini)
1944: Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder)
1943: Ossessione (Luchino Visconti)
1942: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz)
1941: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
1940: His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks)
1939: Gone With the Wind (George Cukor/ Victor Flemming)
1938: The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock)
1937: The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey)
1936: Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin)
1935: The Thirty-Nine Steps (Alfred Hitchcock)
1934: It Happened One Night (Frank Capra)
1933: Duck Soup (Leo McCarey)
1932: Scarface: Shame of a Nation (Howard Hawks)
1931: M (Fritz Lang)
1930: � propos de Nice (Jean Vigo)
1929: Chelovek s kino-apparatom (Dziga Vertov)
1928: The Crowd (King Vidor)
1927: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (FW Murnau)
1926: Faust (FW Murnau)
1925: Bronenosets Potyomkin (Sergei Eisenstein)
1924: The Iron Horse (John Ford)
1923: A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (Charlie Chaplin)
1922: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (FW Murnau)
1921: The Kid (Charle Chaplin)
1920: Way Down East (DW Griffith)
2011: The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick) 2010: Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkich) 2009: City of Life and Death (Chuan Lu) 2008: Synecdoche New York (Charlie Kaufman) 2007: No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen) 2006: Inland Empire (David Lynch) 2005: The New World (Terrence Malick) 2004: Der Untergang (Oliver Hirschbiegel) 2003: Saraband (Ingmar Bergman) 2002: Cidade de Deus (Fernando Meirelles) 2001: Mulholland Drive (David Lynch) 2000: Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier) 1999: American Beauty (Sam Mendes) 1998: The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick) 1997: Cheun gwong tsa sit(Wong Kar-Wai) 1996: The English Patient (Anthony Minghella) 1995: Vlemma tou Odyssea, To (Theo Angelopoulos) 1994: Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson) 1993: Trois Couleurs: Bleu (Krystov Kieslowski) 1992: The Player (Robert Altman) 1991: The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme) 1990: Goodfellas (Martin Scorcese) 1989: Crimes & Misdemeanors (Woody Allen) 1988: The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorcese) 1987: Himmel �ber Berlin, Der (Wim Wenders) 1986: Blue Velvet (David Lynch) 1985: Ran (Akira Kurosawa) 1984: Paris Texas (Wim Wenders) 1983: Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky) 1982: Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio) 1981: The Postman Always Rings Twice (Bob Rafelson) 1980: Raging Bull (Martin Scorcese) 1979: Apocalypse Now (Francis Coppola) 1978: Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick) 1977: Eraserhead (David Lynch) 1976: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorcese) 1975: Zerkalo (Andrei Tarkovsky) 1974: The Godfather Part II (Francis Coppola) 1973: Amarcord (Federico Fellini) 1972: The Godfather (Francis Coppola) 1971: A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick) 1970: Tristana (Luis Bunuel) 1969: Andrey Rublyov (Andrei Tarkovsky) 1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick) 1967: Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn) 1966: Persona (Ingmar Bergman) 1965: Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard) 1964: Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick) 1963: 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini) 1962: Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean) 1961: Viridiana (Luis Bunuel) 1960: � bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard) 1959: Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder) 1958: Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock) 1957: Smultronst�llet (Ingmar Bergman) 1956: The Searchers (John Ford) 1955: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton) 1954: Shichinin no samurai (Akira Kurosawa) 1953: T�ky� monogatari (Yasujiro Ozu) 1952: Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa) 1951: A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan) 1950: Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder) 1949: The Third Man (Carol Reed) 1948: Ladri di biciclette (Vittorio De Sica) 1947: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur) 1946: It's A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra) 1945: Roma, citt� aperta (Roberto Rossellini) 1944: Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder) 1943: Ossessione (Luchino Visconti) 1942: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz) 1941: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles) 1940: His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks) 1939: Gone With the Wind (George Cukor/ Victor Flemming) 1938: The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock) 1937: The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey) 1936: Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin) 1935: The Thirty-Nine Steps (Alfred Hitchcock) 1934: It Happened One Night (Frank Capra) 1933: Duck Soup (Leo McCarey) 1932: Scarface: Shame of a Nation (Howard Hawks) 1931: M (Fritz Lang) 1930: � propos de Nice (Jean Vigo) 1929: Chelovek s kino-apparatom (Dziga Vertov) 1928: The Crowd (King Vidor) 1927: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (FW Murnau) 1926: Faust (FW Murnau) 1925: Bronenosets Potyomkin (Sergei Eisenstein) 1924: The Iron Horse (John Ford) 1923: A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (Charlie Chaplin) 1922: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (FW Murnau) 1921: The Kid (Charle Chaplin) 1920: Way Down East (DW Griffith)
A dull, clichéd movie
Let me start out by stating that I am a fan of Joy Division. I love both of their studio albums and I feel that Ian Curtis' lyrics possess a deep and alluring poetry, despite the suggested darkness and nihilism contained within. Strangely enough I usually avoid watching films solely because they concern themselves with interesting true life stories, this is because they are usually badly done. The director feels as if s/he needs to tell the story in a particular way with particular motifs. They are usually badly paced as a result of trying to stitch together a real story whilst having to artificially give prominence to certain events, which the fans expect to see not just included but emphasised. And they generally lack inspiration as works of art in themselves, far too often feeding off the legend that surrounds the subject matter rather than actually adding anything new in terms of creativity or insight. This film is guilty of all these things and will only further entrench my reluctance to watch films about interesting true life stories in future.
How does this film get it wrong? Well first of all Corbijn comes across as uncreative and uninteresting as a directorial presence. His pacing is poor, there are far too many uninteresting, drawn-out scenes, particularly the one with Ian and Annik alone, which should never have made the final cut, it was so dull I thought I might go into a trance. He also fails to provide the right pacing for us to understand why Ian goes from being a bit insular but basically a pretty balanced and ambitious guy to a confused, ill, depressed, whining, self-destructive maudlin presence. It's almost as if he has a personality transplant halfway through the film, and is just one example of where this film is actually jarring. Let me also mention the cinematography. I'm not one of those people who has a problem with black and white films in any way shape or form. Films like Europa, Manhattan and Raging Bull are wonderful examples of black and white cinematography used to fascinating effect. But this film is an example of when black and white photography is a completely redundant and, yes I'm going to say it, pretentious exercise. It added nothing to the film at all, no mood, no aesthetic quality, nothing. In fact it serves to disengage the viewer from the time period which is early 70s through to 1980. You know how ridiculous the decision is when Ian's watching Stroszek, a film released in 1976 and filmed in colour, in black and white, it just adds a layer of confusion that shouldn't be in the film, we should be connecting not unnecessarily visually disconnected from the story.
I could talk about the lack of character development the mediocre acting from Sam Riley, the complete and utter lack of insight that we get into Ian Curtis' character, Joy Division the band and even the Manchester music scene of the 70s but I'd be here for a long while. In short there is very little that is interesting or of value in this film, a documentary on Ian Curtis and Joy Division on youtube would serve as a much better investment of your time.
Could well be one of the greatest movies ever made
I do not use the title to this review lightly, this film genuinely is that good. Von Trier manages to achieve in this film what visionary and influential directors such as Luis Bunuel, Michael Haneke and Remy Belveux et al have attempted in their own seminal works. Bunuel was extremely controversial for his time but even his most challenging and controversial films such as "L'Age d'or", "Le Discret Charme de la Bourgeosie" and "Belle de Jour" look refined and elegant almost in comparison to the gritty, completely unapologetic cinematic equivalent to a stiff middle finger that von Trier has created here. Belveux, Bonzel and Poelvoorde take cinema to deliciously shocking and extreme levels with "Man Bites Dog" but von Trier shows that there were still frontiers to cross. Haneke shows no mercy with his astonishing accomplishment "Funny Games" but in a sense dulls the belligerence of his movie somewhat by allowing it to be channelled specifically in the direction of desanitising violence and thereby reminding it's audience of it's power and horror, providing a justification for one of the most disturbing films I've seen. This in no way takes away it's power as a film it just makes it less controversial than the almost completely indefensible "The Idiots", which is what I'm here to review.
Why is "The Idiots" (Idioterne) possibly one of the greatest films ever made? Simply because it doesn't provide any justification for itself and because it asks for no sympathy, whilst challenging the most deeply cherished and hard clung to values of society. This film essentially mocks mental illness, capitalism and corporations, the institution of the family, death and friendship, essentially almost everything that societies, Western societies perhaps in particular (though not necessarily), are based on. This film tears up the rule book and does what all art attempts to do: find something that these rules are essentially based upon, namely, nature.
It is intimated that finding the inner idiot is the way that the characters in this film try to discover their own inner nature but that's only a smoke-screen in terms of what this film is really about. It's not so much that being an idiot brings truth, it brings something much more important: happiness. It is perhaps only for Karen that the two are one and the same. Every character is using the group as a way of making themselves happier. They're left to an extent unstimulated by "normality" and so they use being an idiot as a form of escapism, to provide that little extra that their normal life doesn't cater for. They don't ask themselves about whether what they are doing is moral because they don't care and in presenting this to us von Trier achieves the most powerful thing that art can render, the potential vacuousness of morality in the face of our own happiness. There is nothing objectively moral at all in the world or in our lives, it is a veil, or construct, we use to combat our unhappiness, namely to make ourselves look or feel better than we believe ourselves to be. Morality goes hand in hand with how a society operates and it works well enough for most, but then there are always those who need something else and this is what the group represents, that something else. Von Trier shows us that to appreciate life in a more honest and fundamental way means doing away with certain societal constructs, but of course those societal constructs exist for a reason, ie people want/ need them and the idiots in this film are in similar need of them to greater or lesser extents.
Each character is distinctive in the way that they approach their roles as idiots, no doubt most interestingly Karen and so I shall say a little about her character. In Karen we see the stripping down of morality that I talked about in the previous paragraph. Karen is initially extremely resistant to the "philosophies" and behaviour of the group but the longer she spends with the group the more she feels it's impact upon her own life to be genuinely beneficial. The two weeks she spends with the idiots proves to be a genuinely happy one for her where she is able to adjust to the trauma that life has rent upon her. And here we see the power of von Trier's vision, what society would condemn as ghastly, inhuman and despicable is in fact the thing that helps Karen deal with her profound grief. What does it matter that people might say that what she is a part of is wrong if it in fact makes her happy? And when one watches the film to its conclusion one will see the profundity of the dilemma that awaits the many who would no doubt feel differently. The point isn't whether you ultimately agree with the idiots way of life but whether you see the fundamental dilemma that Karen's interaction with the group poses.
Karen is not the only character of interest (one of the film's many strengths), I will end this review here though as I could really go on for an extremely long time about this film, from its technical Dogme 95 aspects to the extent that it is comic or tragic, etc. But what really matters here is the fact that the film is relentlessly human and relentlessly honest, something von Trier has a justified reputation for. It is also possibly von Trier's, or any director's, most creative, hilarious and immersive film yet and it is certainly his, and perhaps the, boldest.
The Reader (2008)
One of the most poorly written yet well acted films I've seen.
The writing in this film is atrocious. Is it really conceivable that a woman would condemn herself to life imprisonment because she doesn't want to admit that she can't write? Are we to believe for a second that the Michael character would care so much about an affair he had for one summer that it would decisively affect him for the rest of his life, regarding his future relationships and kids etc? And why did the writer think that he could throw all sorts of situations and ideas into this film from pederasty, to war crimes, to law, to morality, to forgiveness, to the power of art, to the need for redemption, to the subjectivity of evil, etc, etc without actually making any sort of point, except for perhaps one. Being that human beings have an effect on each other first and foremost in virtue of their humanity. It's the only thing that really comes from this movie and it's an important and moving observation but the contrived way he gets there verges almost on the embarrassing at times.
The thing that saves this film though is the acting. Particularly that of Kate Winslet. I've personally been a fan of Kate since her big budget venture in 1997 and she proves with this film that she has a shimmering talent that is still breaking new ground today. She is able to take the most implausible of scripts and characters and create something human and wonderful in this film. She is at times empathetic, tender and vulnerable and at other times hard, cruel and detached. The way she navigates her character's journey and finds truth amidst conceit is truly fascinating to behold. It is a master-class in the art of film acting. Ralph Fiennes and David Kross also should not be ignored for their committed and heart-felt portrayals of young and adult Michael. There are some great supporting performances from Bruno Ganz and Lena Olin too. The director allows these actors space to breathe and inhabit these characters and he makes a good choice as without that space the film would have been extremely poor.
This film is a triumph for Ms Winslet, not so much for Daldry and his writing team though.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Utter, utter genius
Woody Allen from Annie Hall through to Crimes and Misdemeanors really was a master of his art. Everything he took on whether it be romance, comedy, mockumentary, or fantasy, he managed with unparallelled panache and creativity. In The Purple Rose of Cairo he delivers a film that is so wonderfully balanced between the lines of fantasy and reality that it truly strikes at the heart of cinematic genius.
The basic plot is that Cecilia, played by Mia Farrow, is unemployed and in an abusive marriage in the midst of Depression-era New Jersey, and her one method of escape from the drudgery of her surroundings is via the movies. One day whilst watching her favourite film for the fifth time one of the characters suddenly starts interacting with her and from there starts a chain of events that range from the absurd to the deeply touching, handled in a way that only Woody Allen could pull-off.
It may be easy for younger cineastes to underrate Woody Allen and his contribution to cinema based on the Luke-warm fare that is now attached to his name but for anyone curious about one the most inventive, hilarious and brilliant film directors to have emerged in the entirety of cinema's history, watching films like this one will reveal just how brilliant Woody Allen is at his best.
This film is a meditation on the nature of existence, reality and love, reflecting on the merits of escapism versus the value of acceptance of reality, whilst also being extremely entertaining and immensely original and creative.
It should also be mentioned that Mia Farrow's performance is one of the most enchanting I have ever witnessed. What a lovely and wonderful film created by one of cinema's greatest talents.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Please stop Woody
Let me first off start by stating my overall perspective: Woody Allen is truly one of cinema's greatest talents in my view. His films during the 70s and 80s were amongst some of the greatest cinematic art ever created. His development from zany, energetic comedic maestro to wistful, poignant, comedic/dramatic master is a joy to behold. I just wish that he'd stop making films. Now I know that I'm not the first to say this and that it may seem mean-spirited if he enjoys making films and there are still those who enjoy watching them (and there clearly are) but I just find it painful to watch this once brilliant talent regurgitate the same ideas, themes and characters but with less colour, wit and inspiration on each occasion.
But let me talk about this film specifically. You'll have guessed from my tone that I wasn't impressed. What we have here, essentially, is a typical Woody dynamic of a central character caught in an unfulfilling relationship who wishes for something different and is taken on a journey of discovery. To be fair the journey of discovery usually involves another woman, and whilst that is part of the journey here, it is certainly not the full picture. In fact we get a "Purple Rose of Cairo"esque fantasy journey where Gil, the central character, this time it's Owen Wilson as the Woody cipher, travels to Paris in the 1920s, the time and place he professes that he would most wish to be alive.
Now this device you will either find "amusing", as British reviewer Mark Kermode described it, or tiresome, as I personally found it. It was an indulgent, insipid and far too twee escapade of cinematic concept to carry any real weight or interest. Whereas in "The Purple Rose of Cairo" Mia Farrow lit up the screen with a genuine sense of wonder and excitement and the audience was carried along on the journey with her, here we have knowing nods and winks and anaemic characterisations of cultural icons from the past. Yes we get a nice message about the limits of nostalgia but this is hardly revolutionary fare. It's all just a little bit dull and pointless and unnecessary. I felt myself wishing that I was watching the luminous Marion Cotillard, who plays Gil's love interest, being directed in a film where there would be the energy available to match the heights of her capability as an actor, as Woody is no longer that man. What he managed with Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, et al, is a thing of the past. Woody has his pick of actors to work with, he's directing films around the world, but it's all superfluous, as he has nothing new to say. He hasn't for a while now.
Really cool film
The word cool, what does it actually mean? Well the point is that you can't really define it, but you know when someone or something has it, and this film definitely has it. It portrays characters, great characters, living their lives, their twisted confused, crazy lives. There are moments of happiness, sadness, confusion and regret, but ultimately each character is able to find an acceptance for one another, a toleration, a respect, and, most importantly, even a love for one another.
This film demonstrates that life is crazy and it also demonstrates that if we can see past the craziness that there is beauty and harmony and that it lies in our hearts, in the love that we feel for one another. All this is communicated in a really cool way.
Watch it and you'll see what I'm on about.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
There are precious few films that are able to pull off the combination of being genuinely heart-felt and raucously entertaining, this, wonderfully, qualifies as one of those precious few. The most striking thing about this film has to be the dialogue, witty, biting, sharp and, most enjoyably hilarious. Meryl Streep gets some amazing lines as does the gorgeously snooty "first assistant" played by Emily Blunt. But the dialogue isn't just there to entertain it is also extremely effective in conveying the contrasting and contradictory characters within the film.
Anne Hathaway shines as the wide-eyed protegé who begins with high ideals but is seduced by the glamour and excitement of the fashion industry. A perfect choice she radiates innocence and a desire to be genuine whilst forced to grapple with the harsh realities of career life. Streep is another perfect choice in her role as the fashion editor-in-chief Miranda. The "Dragon Lady", as she is referred to in the film, is as attractive as she is repellent, making her one of the films many great contradictions, great because they're genuine and all too recognisable in our every day lives.
An engaging, enjoyable and well conceived story, well edited, well choreographed, with a funky, dare I say "fashionable", sound-track to boot. I enjoyed it immensely.
Le voyage dans la lune (1902)
A voyage to narrative cinema.
This film is an amazing technical feat for any era but especially so when one regards it's utter uniqueness in relation to anything that had been created at the time. The film is an embodiment of cinematic revolution coming only eight years after the Edison shorts, which had been dazzling when first released, it made all other films look ordinary and unimaginative in the face of the abounding creativity that the film demonstrates.
The special effects are mind-blowing when taken in the context of the era in which it was released and the tight, structured narrative provides amusement and enjoyment for fans today, over 100 years after the film's release. The child-like creativity of the director enhances the enjoyment of the film and serves to create a world into which the audience is invited with the utmost enthusiasm.
A genuine feat of making what would have previously been considered impossible possible, this is a must see for all fans of cinema of all ages, as more than any other film this can lay claim to giving birth to cinema as we know it.
Superman Returns (2006)
A woeful attempt to rejuvenate the Superman franchise (*possible spoilers)
I have to say, watching this film was completely excruciating, there was just no point to it. When I contrast it with the original Richard Donner version all I can see is how much better it was done almost thirty years ago: Reeve was 10 times better than the wooden and inept Brandon Routh. What made Routh's performance worse was the fact that he seemed to be trying to imitate Reeve's performance, and a woeful imitation it was by the way, he had absolutely nothing original to bring to the role.
Margot Kidder was a million times better than the charmless Kate Bosworth. She had no character, no screen presence in fact, unlike the enchanting Kidder, she provided absolutely no justification for Superman's obsession with her, she almost made Brandon Routh look entertaining (emphasis on almost)
The script was terrible, not one interesting word was spoken and unlike the witty dialogue displayed in the original film this effort fell flat at every supposedly comic turn.
The plot was dire, Superman flies away, Lois gets married and has a kid, Superman returns, that's about it folks, and I care because?
The direction was banal to the point of being irrelevant, Singer showed absolutely none of the guile and intelligence that he showed in his earlier directorial offerings, such as The Usual Suspects. This is certainly a stain on his resume.
Finally the recycled John Williams score felt tired and dull where it felt fresh and original in the original film, it was another indication that there were absolutely no knew ideas for this film and again begs the question as to why it was made.
The only reason I can think of that this got commissioned was because of the special effects, and although it cannot be argued that there was certainly no expense spared in this area all it served to do from my point of view was further take away from the charm of the film. I again go back to the original because I felt that the original had an extra level of appeal because it demanded your imagination in the same way the original King Kong demands your imagination, the effects in themselves are crude when compared to today's standard but what they do have, that films such as Superman Returns do not, is accessibility. The audience can access the story and the images rather than having to fight through that extra level of computer graphics that threaten to destroy the magic that once was cinema.
In conclusion I thought this was an awful attempt to bring back the Superman franchise, but with the attitude of movie-goers being as it is at the moment I'm not surprised to hear that a second film is in the pipeline, I don't know about you but I certainly feel as if I need saving...
The greatest of all the silent movies...
And quite possibly the greatest movie of all time.
This film really broke the boundaries on its initial release, Murnau's fusion of German expressionism and Hollywood production created a genuinely unique piece of cinema that exists as a film apart from any other. The sound techniques employed by Murnau haven't received the attention that they are due as a result of the Jazz Singer released later in the same year, but where the Jazz Singer can be seen as the initial exercise in sound cinema, Sunrise is without a doubt the perfection of the silent era.
The acting is awesome, surpassing anything I have ever seen in any other silent movie and the camera techniques are genuinely awe-inspiring and will not fail to impress viewers 80 years after they were created.
In short Sunrise is one of those special films that capture your heart and appreciation from the very beginning and generate a cinematic performance to rival anything created either before or since, a genuine must see!